It’s hard to beat the power of look-‘em-in-the-eyes personal contact for effective communication. However, that’s not always an option in our electronic-saturated culture. I was reminded of that in the last couple of weeks, thanks to a a couple of articles, Star Trek and a scam.
First, the scam. Most everyone has gotten this call: A caller identifies himself as a technician, saying Microsoft has been monitoring my computer because of a virus. The goal is to infect my computer and then repair it for a fee. Normally I don’t have a lot of patience with these scammers who are up to no good, but as I was listening to him go through his script, I couldn’t help but notice his heart didn’t seem to be in it.
From family to customer service reps, we talk to many people by phone. My goal is (usually) to try my best to make their day; it’s something I picked up years ago from the FISH Philosophy, inspired by the fishmongers of World Famous Pike Place Fish in Seattle (tinyurl.com/MAF-Sep2018-1).
Seven billion people in this ever more tightly-networked world, I thought, and I would probably never come into contact with this soul again. How could I have made even this encounter count?
Sometimes our impact is a memory. Our family was watching the 2009 “Star Trek” reboot. You might not even notice the extra who always impresses me most, because he’s on screen in the opening minutes for one line and two seconds: Randy Pausch, a computer science professor. Pausch died almost exactly 10 years ago from pancreatic cancer, and used his terminal diagnosis to challenge audiences about what really mattered. His question, “What wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?” was the core of “The Last Lecture” a 76-minute presentation that became a viral phenomenon, impacting millions.
Pausch’s very brief movie appearance was part of his attempt to make the most of his remaining life. If you have a chance to watch, read or share his presentation, do so (tinyurl.com/MAF-Sep2018-2).
And then there were the two articles about making an impact – remotely.
Texting sometimes is blamed as a cause of social isolation. A Washington Post article by Hannah Natanson found that experts believe that texting can improve relationships, increase communication between generations, assist in medical research and cope with stressful events (tinyurl.com/MAF-Sep2018-3). The article gives do’s and don’ts for texting effectively.
Use texting to encourage yourself, too! I’m getting uplifting messages each weekday from Shine Text (shinetext.com),claiming 93 percent of their users feel more daily happiness. Other text services are Hello Mom (blog.hellomom.co) for new mothers, help to stop smoking (smokefree.gov) and Crisis Text Line (text 741741), a 24/7 service founded in 2013 that can connect texters with professional counselors.
The second article was more surprising. Sarah Holder’s writes in The Atlantic’s CityLab of a report by the USPS Office of the Inspector General found two keys to lessening the losses experienced by the U.S. Postal Service may be…Millennials and personal mail? Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said that personal mail made them feel special. While they liked paying bills online, they preferred being to hold and keep a note or a card (tinyurl.com/MAF-Sep2018-4).
You may not be face-to-face with those you come into contact with. But churches and individuals should utilize every opportunity to creatively make every contact count. Make others feel special – one call, one text or one stamp at a time. (Even the scammer.)
Ken Satterfield is a former media specialist and Word&Way’s marketing coordinator.